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New Leaders Council

Washington DC 2016 Fellows

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Meet the 2016 Washington DC Fellows

Joe Bañez, Legislative Analyst, Office of National Drug Control Policy, Executive Office of the President


Joe Bañez is a skilled political professional, with experience in grassroots organizing, campaigning, and congressional affairs.  Joe was appointed by President Obama to serve as a legislative analyst within the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. In this role, Joe advises the Director, commonly known as the nation’s drug czar, and senior staff on congressional activities.    Prior to joining the Administration, Joe worked in the House of Representatives as a policy analyst for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce under Ranking Member Henry Waxman of California. Prior to his time on Capitol Hill, Joe led a national network of grassroots volunteers for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. He was also charged with organizing an annual advocacy day, bringing over 500 advocates from across the country to meet with their members of Congress. Joe is a proud alumnus of President Obama’s 2012 Reelection Campaign who, along with a strong team of field organizers, declared victory for Democrats in the Commonwealth of Virginia.    Joe graduated from California State University, Chico with a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology. After graduation, Joe relocated to Washington, D.C. to pursue a career in public service. Joe now resides in southeast D.C. with his girlfriend and their cat. 


Frank Broomell, Legislative Assistant, U.S. House of Representatives

dc-Broomell.jpgFrank Broomell was born and raised in South Jersey.  He became a first generation college student when he enrolled at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.  At GW, Frank majored in International Affairs and minored in Journalism and Mass Communication.  He also played rugby and wrote for the student newspaper, The GW Hatchet.  Frank wanted to give back to the country that he felt had provided him and his family with the opportunity to pursue the idea of the American Dream.  In order to do so, Frank joined the United States Marine Corps and commissioned following graduation from GW in 2009.  He became an intelligence officer and served with Marine Corps aviation units in San Diego, California.  He deployed twice to Helmand Province, Afghanistan between 2011 and 2013.  Frank’s first deployment was with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadrons 462 and 464 as a combined unit.  The combined squadron flew CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters in support of Marine Corps and international forces throughout Southwestern Afghanistan.  With the squadron short on Aerial Observers, Frank volunteered for additional duty and flew in support of numerous combat operations.  During his second deployment, Frank was with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, which supported Marine and British aviation units in Southwestern Afghanistan.  After leaving active duty in July 2013, Frank enrolled at the Harvard Kennedy School and began working towards a Master in Public Policy degree.  At the Kennedy School, he was named a Belfer International and Global Affairs Student Fellow.  Frank spent the summer of 2014 working at the Department of Defense’s South and Southeast Asia policy office.  He supported U.S. efforts to engage with the newly elected Indian government, sustain newly renewed military engagement with New Zealand, and numerous other projects relating to countries in the region.  After graduation in 2015, Frank took a job with Congresswoman Ann Kuster of New Hampshire, where he currently works.  He serves as a Legislative Assistant handling defense, veterans, foreign policy, and healthcare issues.


Catherine (Cat) Fish, Membership & Events Manager, National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association


Catherine (Cat) Fish currently manages the membership and events programs at the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, a sexual health advocacy organization. Previously, Cat worked in the House of Representatives for Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA). She has also worked on several democratic campaigns, including an election cycle at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and as a field organizer for Obama for America.

Cat was born in Germany, and grew up in California, Connecticut, and England. She studied Political Science at the University of Puget Sound in Washington State, and later completed a Masters in Nonprofit Management at the University of Michigan.
A Washington resident on and off since 2006, Cat is an enthusiastic potter, yogi, and cyclist. She will drag you to see live music with her whenever possible.


Stephen Harrington, Associate, State Fiscal Health and Economic Growth - Economic Development, The Pew Charitable Trusts


Stephen Harrington conducts research and analysis for The Pew Charitable Trusts’ state fiscal health and economic growth project. Primarily he works with state budget leaders, economic development officials and state legislators to evaluate their tax incentives programs and ensure that taxpayers are receiving the highest possible return on investment. At Pew he has also researched and/or provided technical assistance on topics such as tax expenditure reporting, data sharing, workforce development, state-local economic development coordination, youth employment and debt affordability.
Prior to Pew, Stephen served as a budget and policy analyst with the Prince George’s County Council. In this role he was the primary analyst for economic and community development and generated recommendations on about $2 billion of operating and capital expenditures.

Stephen has served as policy director for Maryland’s Democratic 47th District slate and a policy adviser for a congressional candidate.

He is an alumnus of Morehouse College and received a master's degree in fiscal policy and urban economics from Brown University.


Mary Kennelly, Policy Analyst, HHS


Mary Kennelly, Policy Analyst, HHS & Regulatory Counsel, FDA
Mary joined federal service as a Presidential Management Fellow. Her home position is at the FDA, where she finds solutions to compliance and operational policy challenges. Until Spring 2016, Mary is on rotation at HHS, where she serves as a policy analyst supporting a special initiative to showcase legal and policy interventions that advance the nation’s strategic public health priorities.

A Chicago native, Mary worked in government affairs representing healthcare and social service providers prior to joining HHS. She was a champion of the medical legal partnership movement while earning her MPH from Johns Hopkins and JD from Loyola Chicago. She has a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown, and served a rural health promoter in Peace Corps/Paraguay.

Mary lives in Adams Morgan with her husband. They enjoy swimming at the park district pool and taking their dog for long walks around Meridian Hill Park.


Irene Lin, Policy Advisor, U.S. Department of Agriculture

dc-lin.pngIrene Lin is a policy adviser in the Office of the Under Secretary for Rural Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the sole federal agency devoted to the economic development needs of rural America. She was the state policy director for Obama for America in Iowa in 2012 and has held communications and research director roles on other Congressional and Senate campaigns. Her Capitol Hill experience includes working for the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee and as a legislative assistant to Rep. Betty McCollum (MN-04). She directed policy and communications at the National Family Farm Coalition and spent one year in Zimbabwe, working with African farm and trade groups and as a reporter for a local news magazine. She also serves as a board member of the Asian American Action Fund, a Democratic PAC. She has a B.A. in American studies from Amherst College and a M.A. in public policy from Johns Hopkins University.


Barrington Little, Senior Security Analyst, BAE Systems Ltd.


Barrington Little is a native Washingtonian, who currently sits as a Senior Security Analyst for BAE Systems assigned their Intelligence & Security Sector. Prior to his tenure with BAE, he spent two years as Lead Administrator for CACI International, assigned to the Intel Community. He also spent two years as an Embassy Representative for the U.S. Department of State, and was also the Director of Marketing for The Black Swan Group, which is a negotiations consulting firm, which was started by Chris Voss, Former Lead International Negotiator for the FBI.

Barrington received his Bachelors Degree in Business from Bryant University in Smithfield, RI and is currently studying to pursue his Masters in Business. Little was recently nominated for the Frontline Leadership program with BAE, which grooms up and coming professionals for leadership and management positions within the company.

Little is the Co-Founder of LittleStreet Investments which is a non-protit for young professionals living in the DMV who are seeking to grow their network and get more involved in the local landscape. LittleStreet provides consistent events for young professionals seeking to plug into the rich culture and energy that Washington, D.C. is comprised of. Barrington also is the Co-Founder and President of Top Notch Suiting Co., a custom bespoke men’s suit line. LIttle is an active member and youth leader of his church, From The Heart Church Ministries, and is also a member of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, which is a network of business and non-profit leaders in Washington, D.C. The Board of Trade invests in the cultural infrastructure of the area and promotes the construction and maintenance of public venues, including for professional sports, civic meetings, conventions, arts, and cultural events.


Michelle Moses-Eisenstein, Public Health Analyst, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Michelle Moses-Eisenstein is a Public Health Analyst in the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), where she works on HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis policy. She served as the 2012-2013 Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) Public Health Policy Fellow. As an ASPPH Fellow, Michelle served in the Office of Budget, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources (ASFR) at HHS, and in the Office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who serves on the Labor-HHS-Ed Appropriations and Budget Committees. Previously, Michelle was an Allan Rosenfield Fellow with amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, in their Washington D.C. Public Policy Office.

Michelle earned a Master of Public Health in Health Policy and Management at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. During graduate school, Michelle served as Project Coordinator in the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit at ICAP at Columbia University and performed with the Bard Hall Players, a student-run theater group at Columbia University Medical Center. Michelle was a Hispanic-Serving Health Professions Schools (HSHPS) fellow at the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA. Michelle graduated from Bard College with a B.A. in Psychology and Global and International Studies. She interned at the Center for Reproductive Rights as a Bard Globalization and International Affairs Program participant, and with Women’s Equity in Access to Care and Treatment.

Passionate about mentoring, music, and mental health, Michelle volunteers with several organizations. She serves on the Alumni Board for the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, and as Secretary for the Columbia University Club of Washington, D.C. She performs in the D.C. metropolitan area with Bethesda Little Theatre, a non-profit organization that donates proceeds from their shows to the Patient Emergency Fund at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other NIH charities. Michelle is founder of the D.C. Coalition for Behavioral Health, which strives to transform the conversation about behavioral health, reduce the stigma around mental illness, and strengthen the community of allied professionals and advocates in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area. Michelle was born in San Antonio, TX, and grew up in Northern California.


Lauryn Nwankpa, Producer, Video/Action


Lauryn Nwankpa is a video producer at the DC-based production company, Video/Action, producing social justice media in the areas of education, victims services, and . She is also a DC-based entrepreneur, owner of Natural Hair Product and Lifestyle Company, Hair To There. Through Hair To There, Lauryn develops all natural 100% organic hair and body products as well as comprehensive education materials meant to help women and girls of color embrace their natural hair.

Lauryn’s career began in Baltimore, MD at a local education based non-profit, called the Baltimore Urban Debate League (BUDL). As the organization’s first full time college access specialist, Lauryn eventually built and became director of BUDL’s College Access and Attendance Program, specializing in college access curriculum development, community outreach, and youth enrichment services.

After relocating to Washington, DC in 2013 Lauryn worked for the DC Public Education Fund developing corporate engagement strategies, writing grants to support innovation in DC Public Schools (DCPS), and supporting the organization’s annual celebration of highly effective DCPS Teachers. In this capacity, Lauryn helped develop several film tributes for the 2013 Highly Effective Educator Awards in collaboration with Video/Action.
However, Lauryn’s first experience in film-making was on the set of the 2013 Jackie Robinson biopic, “42”, where she served as an intern and representative of the Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF). As a former JRF scholar, Lauryn is an active alumnus of the foundation, serving as Secretary of the Alumni Association Executive Board and representing the organization at various media, service, and community events.

Driven by a passion for social justice, economic equality, and education, Lauryn earned her M.A. in Legal and Ethical Studies from the University of Baltimore in 2012, and graduate certification in Urban Education from Johns Hopkins University School of Education in 2013. She holds a B.A. in Comparative Human Development from the University of Chicago.


Shiwali Patel, Attorney Advisor (Administrative Judge), United States Department of Energy


Shiwali Patel was born in Lowell, Massachusetts and raised in Burtonsville, Maryland, right outside of Washington, D.C. In her day job, she works as an attorney at the Department of Energy, Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA), where she serves as an advisor, investigator and Administrative Judge. Shiwali is also on the Board of Directors of a local non-profit organization, the Asian/Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project (DVRP) and she was the Board President of DVRP in 2014. She is also on the Board of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, D.C. Area as the Vice President of Community Affairs. In that position, she is trying to promote more community service and advocacy by the organization and among its members.
A year ago, Shiwali was on a temporary detail as a Special Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Columbia in the Sex Offense and Domestic Violence Unit, where she prosecuted domestic violence and sexual assault misdemeanor offenses. Before joining OHA, Shiwali was a law clerk to the Honorable Laura A. Cordero at the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. Shiwali is a graduate of American University Washington College of Law, where she participated in the Immigrant Justice Clinic and was a staff member of the Journal of Gender, Social Policy and the Law and editor of the Modern American, which is a brief that focuses on issues of diversity and the law. She also participated in several student organizations while in law school, including the Immigrant Rights Coalition, through which she created the Domestic Violence Outreach Committee, the South Asian Law Students’ Association, the Public Interest Student Coalition and the Progressive People of Color Caucus, which she co-founded with a friend. Before law school, Shiwali worked as a community educator for the District of Columbia Rape Crisis Center, through which she conducted outreach and trainings on sexual harassment, sexual assault, and domestic violence. She received her Bachelor’s degree in International Relations with a minor in Women’s Studies from Boston University. In college, Shiwali created a journal that highlighted issues of sexual assault on college campuses, using student-made artwork and poetry, surveys, statistics and narratives from students on their own personal experiences in order to raise awareness on campus rape. Shiwali loves to draw, paint, journal and think of creative and interesting ways to raise awareness on social injustices.


José L. Plaza, National Director Latino Engagement, Enroll America


Jose L. Plaza serves as the National Director of Latino Engagement with Enroll America, the national non-profit organization, whose mission is to maximize the number of uninsured Americans who enroll in health coverage made available by the Affordable Care Act. Over the past two enrollment cycles Mr. Plaza has been charged with engaging disenfranchised and uninsured Latinos through the creation of national partnerships, outreach, and coalitions to educate and enroll eligible Americans with affordable healthcare resulting in a sharp decrease in the millions of uninsured and the enrollment of over 4 million Latinos in quality health coverage.

Prior to his role at Enroll America, Mr. Plaza was the Bill & Melinda Gates Higher Education Graduate Fellow with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and worked in the office of Congressman Raul Ruiz (CA-36) and The Education Trust.

Mr. Plaza’s professional and academic practice focuses on macro policy issues which have a direct impact on the improvement of access and quality resources to the Latino community. Mr. Plaza is doctoral candidate at the University of Southern California in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Higher Education Administration and holds a Masters of Science in Counseling from CSU Long Beach and a Bachelors of Arts in Social Science & English from San Diego State University.

Born in Guanajuato, Mexico, his family and he emigrated to the U.S when he was five, his father is a farm worker and his mom a talented baker- Jose is one of seven siblings. He has been residing in Washington D.C. for three years, has served on the Associate Board of the Latin American Youth Center, is a founding member of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Washington DC Lambda Council, and current President and Board Chair of the Latino History Project. In his spare time Jose is an avid cook and spends time with friends and his dog, Archie.


Golda Philip, Deputy Director, Office of Equal Opportunity, Civil Rights and Diversity Management


Golda Philip currently serves as the Deputy Director for the Office of Equal Opportunity, Civil Rights and Diversity Management within the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  In this role, Golda serves as a key advisor on strategies to advance diversity and inclusion within the HRSA federal workforce.  She is also a key leader in HRSA’s efforts to provide guidance to organizations across the country that receive federal funding about how to proactively comply with civil rights laws.

Before coming to HRSA, Golda was at the HHS Office for Civil where she managed the enforcement of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the main civil rights provision of the ACA.  Prior to that role, Golda served as Branch Chief of the Access and Equity Branch at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where she led a team working to improve access to NIH programs and activities by individuals who have limited English proficiency and provide reasonable accommodations to NIH employees with disabilities.  Golda started her government career as a federal investigator for HHS, a position in which she traveled across the country investigating allegations of discrimination in the health care system.   Prior to joining the federal government, Golda served as a Health Law Fellow at the National Women’s Law Center, where her worked focused on advocating for the needs of women and girls in state and federal health reform efforts.  

Outside of work, Golda co-founded Hospital for Hope, a non-profit organization that aims to improve the healthcare infrastructure in a severely underserved region of India by building and maintaining a hospital that currently serves approximately 1,000 patients a month.  Closer to home, Golda is a current Board member and former President of the Washington Council of Lawyers, a voluntary bar association dedicated to public interest and pro bono law.   A believer in the power and potential of local democracy, Golda is also active her in D.C. community, where she recently served for two terms as the President of the LeDroit Park Civic Association.  Golda earned a B.A. at Stanford University, an M.P.H. at Tufts University School of Medicine, and a J.D. at Northeastern University School of Law


Gabi Porter, Account Manager, Petel & Company


Gabi Porter is an Account Manager at Petel & Company, a campaign strategy and direct mail firm. Gabi works directly with political campaigns and advocacy organizations to create data-driven messaging that delivers a win. Throughout her career, Gabi has worked for award-winning political consulting firms Javelina and the Benenson Strategy Group, fighting for progressive candidates and issues. Immediately prior to coming on board at Petel & Company, Gabi worked at State Voices, a nonpartisan nonprofit that works to build year-round civic engagement and political power for marginalized communities at the state level. In 2015, Gabi’s work was recognized by the American Association of Political Consultants, and she received a Gold Pollie for Best Direct Mail Campaign in the Ballot Initiative division. Additionally, Gabi is a proud AmeriCorps alumni and remains active in the national service community. Gabi earned her undergraduate degree in Global Studies from Arizona State University and a Masters of Public Administration from the George Washington University. In her free time, she enjoys listening to podcasts, making the most of her ClassPass, and laughing too loudly.


David Reyes, Deloitte Advisory Senior Consultant


David Reyes is a Deloitte Advisory Senior Consultant in the Strategic Risk Services service line. His areas of speciality include scenario and exercise planning, project management, crisis management, counter-terrorism strategy, and strategic risk management within the defense, public, and higher education sectors. Additionally, he leads the DC Chapter of VetsInTech to help current and returning veterans with re-integration services, and by connecting them to the national technology ecosystem.

Prior to joining Deloitte, David served for six years as an Engineer Officer in the U.S. Army, which included assignments in Washington, Missouri, New York, and Afghanistan. His last assignment was as a plans and assistant operations officer under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. David is a passionate innovator and has had numerous successful global collaborations, including projects in Afghanistan, Iraq, Honduras, and Liberia.

David was born in Mexico and raised in sunny Florida. He is a proud graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. David is a board member for Knight Outs, an organization of West Point Cadets, Alumni, Staff and Faculty who are united in supporting the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender soldiers to openly serve their country.  In his spare time David enjoys running, traveling, reading, rock climbing, and giving back to my new Washington D.C. community. 


Jessie Ritter, Policy Specialist, National Wildlife Federation


As the Federal Policy Specialist for Gulf Restoration at the National Wildlife Federation, Jessie works to protect and restore the Gulf of Mexico coastal area, increasing its resiliency in the face of storms, floods, sea level rise, oil spills, and other threats to wildlife and coastal communities. In this role, Jessie engages Congress, the Administration, and state and local decision-makers to advocate for sound environmental policies and restoration approaches in the ecologically and economically important landscape of the Gulf of Mexico.

Before joining the National Wildlife Federation, Jessie worked for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation where she covered the oceans and atmosphere portfolio under the leadership of Senators Rockefeller and Nelson. She has also worked for a number of national non-profits, including Oceana and Natural Resources Defense Council, on federal and state policy issues ranging from fisheries management to water resources to coastal community resilience.

Jessie holds a Master of Environmental Management degree from Duke University’s Nicholas School, and a B.S. in Zoology from North Carolina State University. She serves on the Executive Board for the Woman's Aquatic Network, a non-profit dedicated to bringing together professionals with interests in marine and coastal affairs, and promoting the roles of women in these fields. Outside of work, she also enjoys salsa dancing, yoga, and exploring the ever-evolving restaurant scene in D.C.


John Tannous, Associate Director of Research Delivery, The Advisory Board Company


John Tannous is Associate Director of Research Delivery with the Education Advisory Board, a higher education research, technology, and consulting firm that works to identify and implement best practices at 1,000+ colleges and universities. In this position, he offers consultation and facilitation to governing boards, presidential cabinets, and divisional leadership teams through speaking engagements and presentations across North America. Before this role, he held an array of research and management positions at the firm where he directed projects for clients ranging from elite private universities to two-year community colleges and on topics as varied as academic strategy, student services, financial administration, online and professional education, and development and alumni relations.

He received his bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University, where his campus impact through Greek life, student government, and other leadership roles earned him membership on the Homecoming Court and designation as one of 20 “Outstanding Seniors.” He interned for the ACLU of Ohio, the Ohio Democratic Party, and several progressive political campaigns.

As a first-generation college student and son of immigrants, John is passionate about postsecondary education policy, workforce development, and economic opportunity. He is a frequent pro bono consultant to D.C. nonprofits, and he currently works with Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington, a partnership of Episcopal churches that works to empower the homeless of D.C., and with the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capitol.
John is proud to love and obsess all things Buckeyes, Cleveland, and the State of Ohio. His nerdy interests include longform journalism; business, media, and industrial history; and urban planning.


Bryan Thomas, Senior Business Operations Specialist, Accenture


Bryan A. Thomas is a 5th generation native Washingtonian, who currently serves as the chief strategist and senior financial consultant to the CFO of Eye Street Investments. Despite being one of the newest partners in the firm, Bryan was recently appointed to serve as the President of Eye Street Equities – a subsidiary of Eye Street Investments (ESI). In conjunction with his work at ESI, Bryan Thomas is employed as a senior consultant at Accenture. While staffed on Accenture’s US Department of Education project, Bryan managed both the program management and procurement teams as well as the company’s training budget. By establishing positive relationships with vendors and coming up with low cost approaches and alternative strategies for educating Accenture’s resources and key stakeholders, Bryan was able to quadruple the amount of onsite training Accenture provides annually. Through working with Accenture’s business development and strategy teams, he also directed all of the project management reporting across the Citizen Services Family of projects, including those of the United States Department of Education, the United States Department of Commerce, the United States Census Bureau, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Prior to his tenure at Accenture, Bryan served on the board of the Living Classrooms Foundation, and as the Director of Workforce Development for the National Capital Region. During his three year stint with the company, he succeeded in increasing the foundation’s annual program budget 540% via the acquisition of new grants, partnerships and private donors; and he was instrumental in securing career opportunities and employment for 33 workforce development program graduates.

Bryan holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Virginia, and is a 2016 Master of Business Administration candidate at Howard University. When he is not working or pursuing his academic advancement, Bryan spends most of his free time serving community based organizations in the greater Washington Metropolitan Area. Once an Eagle Scout, he now devotes countless hours to working with local Boy Scout troops, as well as, mentoring the college bound students at the KIPP:DC public charter schools and serving as the co-chair for fundraising for the DC Young Democrats. Bryan is a proud member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., and was named the 2015 – 2016 Man of The District by the Miss America Organization, after helping to raise over $22,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network.


Ayanna Williams, Research Consultant, The Lewin Group


Ayanna Williams joined the Lewin Group in June 2014 as a Research Consultant in the Federal Health & Human Services practice. Her current work focuses on developing and implementing a data collection strategy and program evaluation for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services programs and the Administration for Children and Family’s Head Start Program.

Prior to joining the Lewin Group, Ayanna completed her Master of Public Health degree at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health where she was a merit scholar and a Paul D. Coverdell Peace Corps Fellow. She studied Health Policy with an emphasis on healthcare reform, state implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and community-government collaborations. Ayanna graduated cum laude from Colgate University with a Bachelor of Arts.

After graduating from Colgate, Ayanna served as an Emerson National Hunger Fellow with the Congressional Hunger Center where she was placed with the Hunger Task Force in Milwaukee, WI to improve access to federal nutrition programs. She later worked with the Food Research and Action Center in Washington D.C to provide resources to advocates and policy makers that accurately display the nation's need for safety net programs. As a result of her research on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and her work as an advocate for food insecure populations, she served as a presenter on the “Increased Accessibility through Technology” panel at the American Public Health Association Conference.

In 2010, she began her service as a rural health educator for the U.S. Peace Corps in Morocco. Over the course of two years she collected and evaluated public health data surrounding access to care, implemented and evaluated two USAID grants, and designed and facilitated health curricula in rural schools.

Ayanna served on Colgate University’s Board of Trustees between July 2012 and July 2015. Ayanna also served as the Board Chair for Health Students Taking Action Together (HealthSTAT) in 2013 and 2014.


Chelsea Wilson, Legislative Director, Native American Contractors Association


Chelsea Wilson is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. As the Legislative Director of the Native American Contractors Association (NACA), Chelsea works to promote both the mission and legislative priorities of NACA on Capitol Hill.

Chelsea graduated from the University of Denver in 2012. After working on a Democratic congressional campaign in Oklahoma, Chelsea jumped at the opportunity to work on federal policy for Cherokee Nation’s Government Relations department. At Cherokee Nation, her legislative portfolio included issue areas of economic development, health care and education.

In 2013, Chelsea was selected for the Democratic National Committee’s Hope Institute, the revamped “Yes We Can!” program established in 2005 by then-Senator Barack Obama for talented, politically minded young people from underrepresented communities.
Most recently, Chelsea was honored to be selected for the inaugural class of the United National Indian Tribal Youth’s “25 Under 25” leadership program.


Emily Wirzba, Policy Associate for Sustainable Energy and Environment, Friends Committee on National Legislation


Emily Wirzba is the Policy Associate for Sustainable Energy and Environment at the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), the nonpartisan Quaker lobby in the public interest. At FCNL, Emily lobbies Congress to achieve bipartisan action on climate change. She believes that coalition-building, and reaching out to moderates and people across the political aisle, is essential to seeing the changes that the progressive community desires. Emily also works closely with FCNL's network across the country to organize constituents to lobby, write, and advocate for environmental legislation. She loves exploring the question “how does citizen lobbying and democratic engagement from a moral place create political change?”

Emily serves as co-chair of the Washington Inter-Religious Staff Community’s Energy and Ecology Working Group. Her writing has appeared in The Hill, CNN, US News & World Report, OnFaith, Friends Journal, and Faith & Leadership. She was a Spring 2015 Fellow with the Clean Energy Leadership Institute, a leadership development organization that equips fellows with a strong working knowledge of energy markets and policy. Emily is also very active with the Foundry United Methodist Church’s Homelessness Action Team, which is committed to ending chronic homelessness in DC through permanent supportive housing and affordable housing.

Prior to coming to DC, Emily worked for two summers at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, interned at Urban Ministries of Durham — a homeless shelter and service provider in North Carolina — and studied abroad in Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and Cuba. Emily graduated summa cum laude from Furman University in 2013 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in philosophy and political science, and a minor in poverty studies. At Furman, she ran Division I cross country and track & field.

In her spare time, Emily can be found making homemade pasta, running in Rock Creek Park, reading historical fiction, or working on a sewing project.


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